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Recently: Celebrating a reservoir amid a downpour


By Valarie Schwartz

Kevin Brice could have complained.

It was Friday, the third of three days of rain we had in October.

He stood in a recently completed open-sided shelter containing four large picnic tables (made of recycled plastic).

A cold breeze blew the rain around him overlooking Cane Creek Reservoir and he looked cold in the clothes that would have been quite comfortable in his office as executive director of Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC).

Instead he said, “Whenever TLC is included in an outdoor event, it rains. We should have planned this months ago!”

Bob and Chris Nutter and I agreed whole-heartedly as we dried off benches and tables while waiting for a group from Carol Woods to arrive, wondering if they would — though the invitation had said, “rain or shine — pray for rain.”

Ed Kerwin, executive director of OWASA walked up sporting a yellow rain slicker, OWASA cap, big smile, and carrying a large blue-and-white umbrella. In love with the weather, he said he’d walked up to the mouth of Cane Creek and found nothing flowing. The ground was still soaking up everything coming down.

Bob Nutter believed it. He said he’d dug postholes the day before the rain began and they still had no water standing in them.

The person with the boxed lunches arrived saying that two busloads and 10 cars were expected. He couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to eat out in the cold, damp weather. But he didn’t complain about being there.

Others arrived and commented on the rain, saying, “We’re not complaining.”

When only one bus and several carloads finally arrived, the refrain continued as the intrepid group dressed for the weather unloaded, some of them commenting on the rain, adding, “We’re not complaining.”

The shelter was just big enough for everyone to sit in a place where they didn’t get rained on while eating their sandwiches and listening to Kerwin’s welcome.

“I’m going to stand in the rain because it feels so good to be in the rain,” he said from outside the shelter’s roof. He spoke briefly of the reservoir behind him, capable of holding three billion gallons of future drinking water, collected over a 32-square-mile watershed, and how it and University Lake, which holds half a billion gallons, were now only half full — not half empty.

Then Brice, almost shivering, explained that we were there to pay tribute to four people who have been very good stewards to Triangle Land Conservancy in Orange County.
Bob and Chris Nutter, who live over the hill and around a few curves from where we stood, were recognized for the conservation easement placed on Maple View Farms so that that land will be farmland into perpetuity — never divided for a housing development or shopping center.

Pearson Stewart, a founding board member of TLC and continued supporter, was given a lifetime achievement award for his conservation work. He was there as well, in the shelter that was built because he made the suggestion to OWASA to make Cane Creek Reservoir more welcoming by adding shelters over picnic tables.

And Audrey Booth, who has concentrated on the New Hope Creek conservation initiative, was recognized for her work that included saving 400 acres there.

“She has been a real leader in bringing that to fruition,” Brice said. “Audrey has an uncanny talent of separating folks like you and me from our money.”

When Brice had finished, Stewart acknowledged his sense of personal satisfaction in the part he had played in saving “a portion of our wonderful landscape.”

Then he offered up some wooden nickels — good for ice cream at Maple View Farms, the next stop in the rain.

“This event was planned assuming good weather,” Stewart said.

The rain was good.

And nobody was complaining.

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